Yesterday marked the end of the third week of teaching composition I classes to my 85 plus students. The two earlier weeks were only four days long because we started on a Tuesday and then we had Labor Day Monday off. So, this was a tolerable week because my last class had about five football players missing (they sit in the front rows) and some of my farmers (they sit towards the back) who are hauling sugar beets. This one class I have at 1:00 p.m. every MWF is a puzzling one. I have 20 students with only four girls and then the athletes and farmers. What a strange mix. They are compliant and dutifully follow my instructions but I have to keep on top of them constantly. It’s the girls that have been the quirky ones lately. The one woman from Somalia or Liberia is probably my best student. Otherwise, all the rest are from here except the football players who are from California, Florida and Texas.
I actually feel sorry for these football players because we have a really bad team competing in Division II, we should be back in Division III because we are just a small university. Don’t know what they were thinking when they moved on up to compete against really tough players from bigger schools that have the backing. Some of my players are quick and good, they get it. Others are here for the full ride scholarship and are NOT academic at all. It was said that once the season is over, they high tale it out of Minnesota and back to the warmth of their former states. We shall see how many last in MY class.
The students are learning about logical fallacies, thesis statements, in-text citations, research databases and a host of other things related to APA formatting style. They have already done one essay for me about their grandparents and I had to ask a second time in their revision paper for FIVE descriptive adjectives about their grandparents. Out of the 85 essays I got with their rough drafts, I only got about 3-4 concrete descriptions. Did they think I was kidding? I had a scoring rubric that read on the top “Follow Instructions Well.” They will know that everything I ask of them, I mean it.
Now I have assigned Paper #2 which is titled “Words Matter” and they have written a persuasive essay on one of the following words like: competition, cooperation, resistance to corruption, patriotism, persistence, trustworthiness, thrift…I can’t remember the other three. These are values we talked about earlier and these were the ones that rose to the top as most important to them out of a list of 40 cultural values. THEN they also have to include in this paper an antonym to the word they choose. So, even though some would like to do “resistance to corruption” it will be difficult to find a journal article that would support corruption. We shall see what they will come up with for essays of 1,000 words.
I was pleased with some of the first essays that I saw with Paper #1. I had started to read one in my first 10:00 a.m. class yesterday and got emotional when I read about a set of grandparents (described very well) who were at the deathbed of the grandpa. They had been married 62 years and the author was able to capture the moment of their loving eyes towards each other during that poignant scene of his departing. She wrote that you could FEEL the love in that hospital room. Oh my, I couldn’t get through it without tearing up and getting emotional. My students looked at me kind of funny but it made my point. I told them, I don’t even KNOW this elderly couple but the power of words is important. Before moving on, I said that an author has the ability of making emotion come alive in others.
Okay, enough written, back to grading papers!